Don't Shake the Flask

Because you don't know if it'll explode

Month: August, 2020

The TBR of “Shame”

A recent YouTube video that popped up for me as a recommendation was “Pile of Shame Reading Vlog || Books with Emily Fox.  It’s not so much the books that are depicted in the video but the idea that everyone has books lying around that they’ve started but not finished that had piqued my interest. I have a lot of books which I’ve started and not finished, but I thought I’d list some of them here. For the sake of not boring everyone to tears, I’ve limited this list to non-fiction, plus one fiction book that is masquerading as non-fiction.

  • Jewels: A Secret History by Victoria Finlay – I’m actively reading this one right now. Each section of the book is divided up by gem by increasing hardness on the Mohs scale. It’s a mix of history, science, folklore, and personal anecdotes all rolled into a mix that somehow works. It’s all very interesting and easy reading.
  • Shinto: A History by Helen Hardacre – I bought this book before going on my trip to Japan last year because I knew I would be visiting a lot of temples and shrines. Unfortunately, I’m not even halfway through it yet. The writing is very academic, but I’m still interested. I’m reading this in parallel with Jewels, but this one is quite a bit more slow going.
  • Spillover: Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic by David Quammen – This book is so relevant with COVID-19 right now, but I actually started this book much earlier. I really do like Quammen’s writing, but at the moment, between reading papers for work on infectious disease and this book–I’d prioritize the papers. And while I find the subject fascinating, reading this just feels like more work at the moment. If you find this interesting too but don’t have time to read this, I recommend watching Joe Scott’s interview with David Quammen.
  • Feeding a Thousand Souls: Women, Ritual, and Ecology in India – An Exploration of the Kolam by Vijaya Nagarajan – I bought this book right after hearing the author speak about her experience with the ritual of kolam in India. It bears a striking resemblance to other magical customs around the world using signs to invoke protection and luck. I’ve never heard about kolam before this but I’m always up for learning about superstition and folklore and how it relates to the societies that come up with them.
  • The Secret Lives of Color by Kassia St. Clair – This book is divided up by different colors with lots of trivia about those particular colors. I got halfway through and then got distracted by other things. It’s supposed to be a quick read, so I need to get on this.
  • Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe by Kapka Kassabova – This is a mix of memoir and travelogue, reporting and essay. The author travels back to where she spent her childhood, in the confluence of Bulgaria, Turkey, and Greece. There’s some absolutely wonderful writing in here and I can’t wait to get back to this one once I’ve finished the books I’m actively reading.
  • Cyclonopedia: Complicity by Anonymous Materials by Reza Negarestani – This is a horror novel masquerading as someone’s lost thesis. It’s weird and bonkers at the same time and definitely not something you can breeze through in one sitting. There’s something really compelling about it too, so I’ll be slowly inching towards the end no matter how long it takes.
  • Magic and Mystery in Tibet by Alexandra David-Neel – I am very much aware that this is viewed through the eyes of a French woman in the 1920s, but considering her scholarly achievements in Asia and Buddhism, she’s possibly a better narrator than, say, a random white dude barging into a culture they have no experience with. This has apparently served as inspiration for a number of writers in the Beat Generation so it would be good background reading.

Wasting Time on the Internet

One would think that with all these months trapped at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I would have had plenty of time to catch up on my reading, but strangely (or perhaps not strangely) enough, that wasn’t the case. I’m as busy as ever, but maybe that’s not surprising considering my field of work.

Recently I managed to finish one of those books in my gigantic to-be-read pile: Wasting Time on the Internet by Kenneth Goldsmith. This particular blog post isn’t going to be critiquing this particular book–although I will say that Goldsmith’s thesis, that the internet has changed how we live and think and spend our time, is an interesting one. Certainly, many things happening in the world now (for better or worse) wouldn’t have been possible without the internet.

This has mostly made me think of what I usually do to “waste time” on the internet. There are so many things. But perhaps I can narrow this down to just stuff I watch on YouTube and maybe I can provide kind of a hodge-podge list of what I do watch.

Cats: These are probably the most time wasting sort of videos I watch. Although–they can also be informative. I also have a cat, after all.


Kpop reactions: It’s not so much the kpop videos themselves that I find interesting, but the whole ecosystem of react channels that have sprung up around it. The more watchable ones, obviously, are the ones with actual commentary instead of incoherent fangirling/fanboying.


Book and writing commentary: Food for thought, basically. You might disagree with their picks, but it’ll get you thinking about your own literary tastes.


People eating weird stuff: Totally mindless but at the same time, completely entertaining.


Music: This is just a small selection of the type of stuff I listen to.


Horror/RPG: I find the storytelling and the intersection of that with this particular genre very interesting. This scratches a different itch than the book/writing commentary channels above.


Science: I’m a scientist. Of course I like watching science videos on YouTube. This is just a small selection. I’m sure there are some other very interesting channels I’ve missed.


Linguistics: These are the channels I find more engaging. I’ve tried some other linguistics/language channels which also are very popular, but I find myself wanting to fall asleep in the middle of them.


Culture: Just some really cool and random stuff all around.


NaNoWordSprints Prompts from July 2020

Here are the prompts I tweeted out on NaNoWordSprints during July for Camp NaNoWriMo!

* * *

June 30, 2020, 9:30pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
January 2008 Book Titles

10 min
caught by surprise
20 min
in perfect harmony
30 min the whole truth
10 min no accident
15 min tempting evil
30 min a picture of guilt


July 2, 2020, 9:30pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 1

10 min Fascination
20 min
Longevity, strength, and grace
30 min False love
10 min A meeting place
15 min Art
30 min Elegance


July 3, 2020, 5:00pm-10:00pm (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 2

10 min secret love
20 min
thankfulness, gratitude
30 min
patience, good fortune, prosperity, unity
10 min grief
20 min promise
30 min immortality
10 min pride
20 min
forsaken, sickness, anticipation, undying love
30 min royalty
10 min
hospitality, happiness, abundance
20 min
love is reciprocated
20 min preference


July 4, 2020, 5:00pm-9:00pm (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 3

10 min
everlasting friendship
20 min
you are the only one I love
30 min
my regrets follow you to the grave
10 min trusting
20 min temperance
10 min faith and purity
30 min good luck
10 min sympathy
20 min impatience
20 min purity of heart


July 5, 2020, 6:00pm-10:00pm (UTC-8)
February 2008 Book Titles

10 min triple threat
20 min
special assignments
30 min perfect cover
10 min gambit
20 min out of the forests
30 min
expecting a miracle
10 min no control
20 min payback
30 min
forbidden attraction
5 min
a person of interest


July 6, 2020, 8:00pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
Ennio Morricone Soundtracks

10 min
the good, the bad, and the ugly
20 min
before the revolution
30 min face to face
10 min
the endless game
20 min the betrothed
30 min
the correspondence
10 min the best offer
20 min disclosure
30 min state of grace
5 min butterfly


July 7, 2020, 8:15am-10:30am (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 4

10 min success
20 min immortal love
30 min beware
15 min glory
30 min unwavering


July 7, 2020, 1:00pm-3:00pm (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 5

10 min luck
20 min ardent
30 min revenge
10 min magnificence
20 min justice


July 8, 2020, 12:00pm-3:00pm (UTC-8)
March 2008 Book Titles

10 min after hours
20 min
deadly departures
30 min
reasonable doubt
10 min civil and strange
20 min provenance
30 min family matters
20 min I’ve got a secret


July 8, 2020, 5:00pm-9:00pm (UTC-8)
April 2008 Book Titles

10 min fast life
20 min delusion
30 min hidden motive
10 min personal demon
20 min simply perfect
30 min bad blood
10 min
how to enjoy a scandal
20 min fast and loose
30 min full circle
5 min small favor


July 9, 2020, 2:00pm-4:00pm (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 6

10 min Protection
20 min Loyalty
30 min Constancy
10 min Courage
20 min Enthusiasm


July 9, 2020, 6:00pm-10:00pm (UTC-8)
May 2008 Book Titles

10 min up all night
20 min
what happens here
30 min angel of mercy
10 min soul stealer
20 min tokens of deceit
30 min
promise the moon
10 min the whole truth
20 min ambition
30 min twisted
5 min
hearts and minds


July 10, 2020, 11:30am-6:00pm (UTC-8)
June 2008 Book Titles

10 min
dark and dangerous
20 min long time coming
30 min from a distance
10 min into the storm
20 min destined to meet
30 min face value
10 min dreamer
20 min cosmic
30 min
made for each other
10 min the final sacrifice
20 min show and tell
30 min nothing to lose
10 min
strangers in the night
20 min conspiracy
30 min reckless rogue
5 min castaway


July 10, 2020, 8:00pm-10:00pm (UTC-8)
Types of Divination

10 min
random shouts and cries
20 min footprints
30 min feelings of fear
10 min
observing patterns
20 min
things accidentally seen or heard


July 11, 2020, 2:00pm-5:00pm (UTC-8)
LOC Serendipity

10 min
queries and answers
20 min great fortunes
30 min
notable speeches
10 min
how to fight pests
20 min
enduring investments
30 min
strength for every day
20 min
forward movements


July 11, 2020, 7:00pm-11:00pm (UTC-8)
July 2008 Book Titles

10 min collision
20 min
touching distance
30 min losing ground
10 min
game for anything
20 min unraveling
30 min the shadows
10 min slipping
20 min
flirting with trouble
30 min skin deep
5 min to trust a friend


July 12, 2020, 5:30pm-12:00am (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 7

10 min Humility
20 min Docility
30 min Industry
10 min Riches
20 min Profit
30 min
Magnificence and beauty
10 min
Unpretending excellence
20 min Gratitude
10 min Fascination
30 min Passion
10 min Secret symbol
20 min Sweet
30 min A mother’s love
10 min Rejection
20 min Capriciousness
15 min Dreams


July 13, 2020, 8:00am-12:00pm (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 8

10 min Refusal
20 min Affirmative
30 min Joys to come
10 min
A good education
20 min Transience
30 min Beauty
10 min Justice
20 min Variety
30 min Love
5 min Optimism


July 13, 2020, 10:00pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
Random Wikipedia Articles

10 min hat trick
20 min
research and theory
30 min discussion
10 min higher ground
20 min squad
30 min released
20 min competition


July 14, 2020, 8:30am-12:30pm (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 9

10 min Slighted
20 min Truth
30 min Daughter
10 min
Please notice me
20 min I promise
30 min Emblem
10 min Cheerful
20 min Winning
30 min Forsaken
5 min Youthful


July 14, 2020, 9:00pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
August 2008 Book Titles

10 min into the dark
20 min
indecent proposal
30 min
accidentally fabulous
10 min dark waters
20 min harmony
30 min takeover
10 min trial by fire
20 min overheated
30 min
more than a memory
5 min teaming up


July 15, 2020, 10:00pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
Magic: The Gathering – Ravnica Allegiance – White Cards

10 min bring to trial
20 min
expose to daylight
30 min
impassioned orator
10 min rally to battle
20 min
resolute watchdog
30 min
unbreakable formation
20 min
summary judgement


July 16, 2020, 9:00pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
Magic: The Gathering – Ravnica Allegiance – Blue Cards

10 min clear the mind
20 min eyes everywhere
30 min
mass manipulation
10 min quench
20 min
shimmer of possibility
30 min lost thoughts
10 min prying eyes
20 min mesmerizing
30 min constraint
5 min gateway


July 17, 2020, 8:00pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 10

10 min Sorrow
20 min Uncertainty
30 min Elegance
10 min Betrayal
20 min Simplicity
30 min Unknown
10 min Overcoming
20 min Attachment
30 min A wound to heal
5 min Devotion
10 min Compassion
15 min Strength
20 min Magic


July 18, 2020, 3:00pm-5:00pm (UTC-8)
September 2008 Book Titles

10 min
stranger at the door
20 min wanderlust
30 min my little secret
10 min cold hearted
20 min revelation


July 18, 2020, 7:00pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
October 2008 Book Titles

10 min beautiful liars
20 min caught
30 min chains
10 min
until we reach home
20 min jars of glass
30 min the chosen sin
10 min development
20 min in the dark
30 min heart and soul
5 min
the love of danger
30 min security blanket
30 min
what matters most
30 min
such sweet sorrow
5 min naughty or nice


July 20, 2020, 12:15pm-4:15pm (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 11

10 min Don’t forget me
20 min Insecurity
30 min Thoughtfulness
10 min Resilience
20 min Good luck
30 min Determination
10 min Conviction
20 min Encouragement
30 min Seasons
5 min Hope


July 20, 2020, 9:00pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
Magic: The Gathering – Ravnica Allegiance – Black and Red Cards

10 min clear the stage
20 min consign to the pit
30 min
grotesque demise
10 min
ill-gotten inheritance
20 min act of treason
30 min burn bright
15 min deface
10 min
light up the stage
10 min scorchmark
30 min
skewer the critics


July 21, 2020, 11:00am-3:00pm (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 12

10 min Solitude
20 min Protection
30 min Devotion
10 min Rare
20 min Ambition
30 min Bonds
10 min Domestic
20 min Constancy
30 min Forgive
5 min Playfulness


July 21, 2020, 9:00pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
Magic: The Gathering – Ravnica Allegiance – Green and Multicolor Cards

10 min gift of strength
20 min open the gates
30 min titanic brawl
10 min tower defense
20 min
wilderness reclamation
30 min absorb
10 min bedevil
20 min captive audience
30 min
emergency powers
5 min final payment


July 22, 2020, 9:00pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
November 2008 Book Titles – Part 1

10 min the journey
20 min
living with the dead
30 min
a dangerous friendship
10 min divine justice
20 min
a season for grace
30 min
a dance with the devil
10 min unleashed
20 min casting spells
30 min reckless
5 min bad press


July 23, 2020, 2:00pm-6:00pm (UTC-8)
November 2008 Book Titles – Part 2

10 min
running on empty
20 min dark temptation
30 min
an artful deception
10 min perfect circle
20 min almost famous
30 min high spirits
10 min the dreamer
20 min blood ties
30 min the final battle
5 min
extreme measures


July 23, 2020, 9:00pm-11:00pm (UTC-8)
November 2008 Book Titles – Part 3

10 min a fatal slip
20 min open doors
30 min almost perfect
10 min crash
20 min ready and willing


July 23, 2020, 11:00pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 13

30 min Loveliness
10 min Jealousy
20 min Sacrifice
30 min Heartlessness
5 min Eloquence


July 24, 2020, 8:00pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
Magic: The Gathering – Ravnica Allegiance – Multicolor Cards

10 min get the point
20 min high alert
30 min mortify
10 min savage smash
20 min
theater of horrors
10 min
bedeck and bedazzle
20 min
carnival and carnage
30 min
collision and colossus
10 min
consecrate and consume
20 min
depose and deploy
30 min
incubation and incongruity
30 min
repudiate and replicate


July 25, 2020, 11:00am-1:00pm (UTC-8)
K-pop Video Titles

10 min bad guy
20 min monster
30 min I’m in trouble
10 min oopsy
20 min left and right


July 25, 2020, 2:00pm-4:00pm (UTC-8)
Peony Meanings

10 min Shame
20 min Anger
30 min Honor
10 min Prosperity
20 min Bravery


July 25, 2020, 5:00pm-7:00pm (UTC-8)
Poppy Meanings

15 min Oblivion
15 min Remembrance
30 min Consolation
10 min Success
20 min Imagination


July 25, 2020, 10:00pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
December 2008 Book Titles

10 min suspicion
20 min
an unexpected guest
30 min outlaws
10 min quick study
20 min the inheritance
30 min running wild
20 min by any means


July 26, 2020, 9:45am-12:00pm (UTC-8)
Magic: The Gathering – Ravnica Allegiance – Multicolor, Artifact, and Land Cards

10 min
revival and revenge
20 min thrash and threat
30 min
warrant and warden
10 min scrabbling claws
20 min
hallowed fountain
10 min stomping ground


July 26, 2020, 6:00pm-10:00pm (UTC-8)
January 2009 Book Titles

30 min shock wave
30 min in too deep
30 min empathy
30 min nemesis
30 min double cross
30 min scandalous truth
20 min
the rules of the game


July 27, 2020, 1:00pm-5:00pm (UTC-8)
Lilac and Lily Meanings

30 min First love
30 min
Youthful innocence
30 min Purity
30 min Lofty aspirations
30 min Desire
30 min Humility
20 min Trust


July 28, 2020, 9:30am-1:30pm (UTC-8)
February 2009 Book Titles

30 min security
30 min
flight into darkness
30 min ravenous
30 min swept away
30 min sucker punch
30 min without warning
20 min top secret


July 28, 2020, 9:15pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
Rhododendron and Rose Meanings

30 min Warning
30 min
Attaining the impossible
30 min Mystery
30 min Youth
30 min Wistfulness
30 min Sorrow
10 min Danger


July 29, 2020, 11:30am-3:30pm (UTC-8)
March 2009 Book Titles

10 min secret invasion
20 min naughty
30 min
vengeance runs cold
10 min still irresistible
20 min dark resurrection
30 min
anything but typical
10 min
don’t let it be true
20 min deceived
30 min mere anarchy
5 min the dark border


July 29, 2020, 6:00pm-10:00pm (UTC-8)
April 2009 Book Titles

10 min
beyond this moment
20 min outcast
30 min borderline
10 min monster trouble
20 min
the next best thing
30 min
the house of secrets
10 min
the moment between
20 min from the outside
30 min cursed
5 min always watching


July 30, 2020, 7:00pm-1:00am (UTC-8)
Plant Symbolism Part 14

30 min Faith
30 min Wisdom
30 min Compliments
30 min Dependence
30 min Unconditional
30 min Return
30 min Levity
30 min Ambition
30 min Token
10 min Distrust
20 min Discretion


July 31, 2020, 8:00pm-10:00pm (UTC-8)
Random Idioms

10 min
burn the midnight oil
20 min
by the skin of one’s teeth
30 min
call a spade a spade
10 min cold shoulder
20 min
fly in the ointment